Family and friends in Melbourne, FL

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It’s Florida – let your hair down!  Val, Jeannie, Doug, Sue

When out on the road, traveling around the country for 6 months at a time, you develop a different perspective and occasionally find yourself having interesting thoughts like ‘Hey, we’re so close to my parents’ place, let’s swing by to say hello – it’s only a 2-day drive…’

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Across Georgia – Atlanta to the Okefenokee Swamp

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We were heading from Alabama through Georgia, on towards Florida. Atlanta beckoned because of the potential for a visit with an old friend. From Atlanta, on a relatively direct path to Melbourne FL was a big splotch of green on the map – the Okefenokee Swamp. (Remember Pogo?) Never having visited this or any major swamp, we set our course.

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Scratching the surface of the Deep South II: Alabama

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My cousin Jeanette is 12 years older than me. Although we grew up in the same small NH town, we never got to know each other. (She did, however, know my cousin, Jean.) At 18, Jeanette joined the army and got married a couple years later, not to return to our home town (except for visits after I had moved away). As her husband, Ron, made a career of military policing, they lived in many different and interesting places, including 2 assignments in Germany. They retired in Anniston, AL, site of Ron’s last military assignment. We met at a memorial service about a year ago and made plans to meet up at some time in the near future and get to know each other.

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Land Between the Lakes

It was time for a different kind of adventure for us – chill. In the past month alone, we’d been awed and inspired by the beauty of Roosevelt, Badlands and Rocky Mountain National Parks as well as the Black Hills of SD and high peaks area of CO. We’re still giggling about our serendipitous and crazy visits to Carhenge and The  City Museum in St Louis. We thoroughly enjoyed visits with old and new friends and family in SD, CO and MO. We were thrilled to join two jam sessions in CO. And we were acutely aware that a major, 3-day jam in Memphis was just 2 weeks away. We needed to take a short break from adventuring and take some practice time.

Drawing a line on the (virtual) map from St Louis to Nashville, where we planned to visit Doug’s cousins, we saw a major splotch of green – the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area. Sounds nice. And the old man (Doug) gets a senior discount! We laid a course.

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Missouri – Show Me Sue’s family

2016-09-26_07-31-26My dad was the fourth oldest of 16 siblings. Although most of the family settled and still live somewhere in the northeast and a few retired to warmer climes, two escaped when they were younger. Both moved around quite a bit, and both eventually made their way to Missouri.

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Kansas

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Eternal sorghum fields

Kansas would be different. We don’t know anyone in Kansas. There are no National Parks. State Parks are all about fishing. It’s mostly flat farm country. Still, our memories of traveling through Kansas in 1984 is that every town has a town campground and that the locals are curious, fun to chat with, and friendly. We planned to drive back roads, reminisce and cross the state in whatever time it took, then visit family in Missouri.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Based on a limited sample of 5, our impression is that our National Parks are located in gorgeous places worthy of a visit, well operated and maintained, and extremely popular. As we approached Rocky Mountain National Park (known by locals as Rocky Park) after the kiddos had gone back to school, we expected diminished crowds and lots of options. Ha! A few days before we expected to arrive, we checked the on-line reservation system and found that of the 3 campgrounds remaining open in September, there was exactly 1 site available, at Moraine Park. We booked it, not expecting much. Turns out… it may have been the most beautiful campsite in the park!

The last available campsite...
The last available campsite…

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Four states in two days

You can’t make this stuff up, unless you make it up as you go along…

Carhenge
Carhenge

As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t have much of a plan – we’re letting this adventure unfold as we go along. After our visits and sightseeing in SD, we had a chance to arrange a visit near Boulder, CO. The folks we were meeting were only available on the weekend, and somewhere in there we needed a day or so to take care of a few things on our own. That was tight (at least for us, given our typical travel habits), but it appeared that, yes, we could be there with a little bit of hustling.

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